During a bomb scare aboard a Pegasus Airlines Boeing 737 in the midst of the 2014 Winter Olympics, Russian president Vladimir Putin admitted he ordered Russian security forces to shoot down the aircraft if necessary. The culprit behind the scare was a drunk passenger, who demanded the flight be re-routed to Sochi.
A Pegasus Airlines flight almost ended in tragedy during the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, on orders of Russian president Vladimir Putin. Reuters reports that the orders were revealed in a two-hour documentary about the politician streamed on Russian social media sites.
According to the film, Putin was first made aware of the situation on February 7, 2014, prior to the opening ceremony of the games. Security officials called the president to inform him about the situation: A Pegasus Airlines Boeing 737-800 flying from Ukraine to Turkey was allegedly hijacked by a man who claimed to have a bomb. The flyer demanded that the flight be rerouted to Sochi, the site of the Olympics.
With 110 passengers aboard, Putin asked what normal protocol for this situation was. The security team informed him of their first option: Shoot down the aircraft.
“I told them: Act according to the plan,” Putin said in the documentary, according to Reuters. After giving the go-ahead to potentially bring the aircraft down, the president continued to the opening ceremonies with Olympic officials. A spokesperson for the Kremlin ultimately confirmed the sequence of events as told by Putin.
Fortunately, the use of force was not required on the civilian aircraft. Putin was later informed that there was no bomb aboard the aircraft and the disturbance came from a drunk passenger. The flight was allowed to continue to Turkey without further incident.
With Russia set to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup, security – and what can go wrong on aircraft – will be at the forefront of everyone’s concerns, especially considering Russian aircraft were previously targeted. In 2015, MetroJet Flight 9268 was brought down when terrorists smuggled a soda can-sized bomb aboard the aircraft.